I’ve been thinking more about the types of companies I’d want to start next and have gravitated toward hardware startups. The problem is, I don’t know anything about hardware engineering.
So the problem at hand is how quickly can I become an expert in hardware engineering to enable this type of future?
How Quickly Can You Become an Expert?
My mental model for approaching this is using the 100-hour rule, which is a derivative of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule from Outliers.
In short, the 100-hour rule is putting 100 hours of conscious work into something will instantly put you in the 96th percentile. The remaining 9,900 hours are to get you from the 96th percentile to the 99th percentile.
Scheduling + Constraints
I want to condense the timeline for learning as much as I can, but I am human (despite popular belief) and only have 24 hours in a day.
For me, here are the pre-allocated hours in a day:
- 9 hours of sleep for learning and memory retention
- 2 hours of leisure
- 1 hour of working out
That means I have ~12 hours of work time per day:
- On the weekdays that translates to about 4 hours per day
- On weekends that is about 10-12 hours per day
- Per week, that means I have 40 hours to get this done (5 weekdays * 4 hours + 2 weekends * 10 hours)
Based on these assumptions that means 100 hours = 2.5 weeks. Add in some buffer because I’m still a human and voilà, we're looking at a 3-week sprint.
Where Do I Start?
In my opinion, the hardest part of this journey is figuring out where to start. There are an overwhelming amount of resources on the internet and sequencing is going to be difficult because I don't know what I don't know.
I also acknowledge that no curriculum will be perfect, so I really just need a rough roadmap.
Luckily, ChatGPT basically thinks for you. I asked ChatGPT to build me a 2.5-week curriculum across 3 weeks to learn how to become a hardware engineer. Here it is.
Side note, this is a pretty interesting approach to rethink education as a whole.
Learn hardware engineering in 3 weeks
Here's a curriculum for learning hardware engineering in 2.5 weeks, spread across 3 weeks:
Day 1: Introduction to Hardware Engineering
- Watch the Crash Course in Electronics and Electricity series by Crash Course on YouTube
- Complete the Electronics Basics course on Sparkfun
Days 2-3: Digital Systems
- Watch the Digital Electronics course by GreatScott on YouTube
- Complete the Digital Logic course on All About Circuits
Days 4-5: Analog Electronics
- Watch the Electronics for Absolute Beginners series by EEVblog on YouTube
- Complete the Basic Electronics course on All About Circuits
Day 6: Circuit Design and PCB Design
- Watch the Introduction to Circuit Design and PCB Design series by EEVblog on YouTube
- Complete the Schematic and PCB Design course on EasyEDA
Day 7: Embedded Systems
- Watch the Introduction to Embedded Systems by The Engineering Projects on YouTube
- Complete the Basics of Embedded Systems course on Udemy
Day 8: Microcontroller Programming
- Watch the Introduction to Microcontroller Programming series by EEVblog on YouTube
- Complete the Microcontroller Programming course on Udemy
Day 9: Power Electronics
- Watch the Power Electronics Basics series by EEVblog on YouTube
- Complete the Introduction to Power Electronics course on Coursera
Day 10: Communication Systems
- Watch the Communication Systems series by GreatScott on YouTube
- Complete the Digital Communication course
Day 11: Sensor Networks
- Watch the Introduction to Sensors and Sensor Networks series by EEVblog on YouTube
- Complete the Sensor Fundamentals course on edX
Day 12: PCB Design and Fabrication
- Complete the PCB Design with Altium Designer course on Udemy
- Complete the PCB Fabrication for Hobbyists course on Udemy
Day 13: Microcontroller Interfacing
- Complete the Microcontroller Interfacing: Basics course on Udemy
- Complete the Microcontroller Interfacing: SPI Protocol course on Udemy
Day 14: Internet of Things (IoT)
- Complete the IoT for Beginners - Learn to Build IoT Applications! course on Udemy
- Watch the Introduction to the Internet of Things (IoT) by The Engineering Projects on YouTube
Day 15: Control Systems
- Watch the Control Systems Engineering series by Brian Douglas on YouTube
- Complete the Introduction to Control Systems course on edX
Day 16: Signal Processing
- Watch the Signals and Systems series by Oppenheim and Schafer on YouTube
- Complete the Fundamentals of Digital Signal Processing course on edX
Day 17: Power Electronics Applications
- Watch the Power Electronics Applications series by EEVblog on YouTube
- Complete the Power Electronics: Devices, Circuits, and Applications course on Coursera
Day 18-19: Final Project and Review
- Design and build a project that incorporates concepts learned throughout the curriculum
- Review all concepts learned in the previous days to reinforce your knowledge
Note that this curriculum is just a suggestion, and you may need to adjust it based on your interests and goals. Also, make sure to balance theoretical concepts with hands-on experience, as this is crucial to understanding hardware engineering concepts. Good luck on your learning journey!